inner-city Melbourne sustainable rebuild

This project is an affordable home designed to capture the spirit of its location and the old print factory that used to stand in its place.

The clients were an artist and a musician looking for a functional, sustainable house on a budget.

When they bought the dilapidated factory (also used previously as a stable), the plan was to retain the structure and renovate it to suit their needs, which included studios for art and music as well as an open dining living space, two bedrooms and wet areas. However, after a thorough structural inspection it was determined that that the building was structurally unsound beyond conversion, and demolition was unavoidable.

A number of options were explored including an entirely new house design, a modular building, etc., but nothing truly fit the brief or seemed like it would make a valuable contribution to the urban fabric of inner-city Melbourne.

Therefore, it was decided that the new building would capture the aesthetics and feel of the original but with the addition of modern, sustainable design features.

inner-city Melbourne sustainable rebuild brickwork

Design response

As a way to retain the feeling of the original, the structure was partially demolished and the brick shell was rebuilt in its original form with materials salvaged on site. Parts of the external wall and roof trusses (which were non-compliant under current structural codes) were also kept, reinforced and merged into the new house.

inner-city Melbourne in a sustainable rebuild interior

A new first-floor bedroom wing was inserted as a lightweight structure supported by a steel frame, defining the living area below. As a way to save on construction costs, the new art and music studios were built as commercial spaces.

Materials were left rough or unfinished wherever possible to create a low-maintenance space.

While it was a shame to have to demolish the existing structure, rebuilding allowed the new building to achieve a strong thermal performance while retaining the look and feel of the old building.